August 23, 2023

The following is a reflection from Alex Jesus, Summer Search's new Marketing & Communications Coordinator and Boston alumnus. 

Alex Jesus

When I think back to the three incredible days of the 2023 Summer Search Alumni Summit & Leadership Conference, I'm filled with emotion. 

More than an event, #ASLC23 was a journey of shared experiences, newfound connections, and powerful revelations.

Let me take you through each day and the energy that flowed through every moment.

Day One: Kick-Off

"The future of Summer Search is bright!!" ~ Ursulina Ramirez, Summer Search CEO

The Alumni Summit commenced with a powerful moment of unity and dialogue -- the Inclusion & Retention Roundtable.

Summer Search alumni, staff, partners, and board members (from organizations like PwC, Loomis Sayles, Shawmut, the Duplessy Foundation, Clorox, Oakland Unified School District, and NoBull) converged to engage in a candid conversation about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) with our CEO, Ursulina Ramirez 

Inclusion & Retention Roundtable. From left to right Jean Lee, Dexter Moore, Jr., Joyce Profile, Diane Joseph, Marcus Johnson, Tolu Oladele, Ursulina Ramirez, Christine Capacillo, Derrick Duplessy, Stella Yuen, Dariela Colon, Michelle La Fleur, Leslie Eichler, Jasper Hanowell

Inclusion & Retention Roundtable. From left to right Jean Lee, Dexter Moore, Jr., Joyce Profile, Diane Joseph, Marcus Johnson, Tolu Oladele, Ursulina Ramirez, Christine Capacillo, Derrick Duplessy, Stella Yuen, Dariela Colon, Michelle La Fleur, Leslie Eichler, and Jasper Hanowell.  

This roundtable, set the stage for the transformative days ahead, where stories were shared, connections formed, and aspirations ignited. 

Through this inclusive dialogue, a mosaic of perspectives emerged, fostering the understanding that the summit was not only an event but a movement, reflecting the collective commitment to positive change and the celebration of unity. 

As we gathered for the welcome party, the atmosphere was electric.  

Though the rainy weather had us indoors, the venue was awe-inspiring.  (Shoutout to Boston alumnus Johnny Chen and the company he works for, NoBull, for the alley-oop!)  

The party felt like a reunion of kindred souls and a celebration of friendship, whether old or new.  

People who had only met through virtual screens were finally able to connect face-to-face. The joy was palpable; I still remember the many smiles that lit up the room as Summer Searchers greeted each other.  

My heart swelled when I saw Victoria Martin, an alumna and dear friend from my Summer Search trip; we connected shared stories as if no time had passed. 

 “I had never been to a Summit before and had no expectations,” Victoria shared. So, when I [had] seen him [Alex], my heart felt full of excitement and overall emotions. This was someone who I had lots of differences with but had grown to love like my brother. No words can express my gratitude for Summer Search for constantly connecting us. It was a reminder that I am around people who shared the similar experiences as me and that I am not alone.”  

Victoria Martin and Alex Jesus dancing at the leadership summit

Victoria and Alex #BostonStrong.

The party was the perfect start – a gateway to the two days of growth and learning that lay ahead. 

Day Two: Breakout Sessions, Keynote, and Connection 

"I am extremely grateful to have participated as an event planner and facilitator for the Summer Search ‘Alumni as Parents’ panel. ~ Julie Taeko Gramlich, Summer Search Alumna and ASLC Panelist

A whirlwind! Energized from Friday evening’s festivities, we dove headfirst into breakout sessions, where alumni and partners led enlightening, inspiring discussions.  

The connections formed were invaluable, and the magic of each session left me wishing we could record every moment (a note for #ASLC25!).  

Morning breakout sessions were followed by a hearty breakfast where new and old friends mingled, sharing stories and insights. 

The atmosphere reminded me of my summer experiences in Pennsylvania, where everyone was open, friendly, and eager to connect. 

As the day unfolded, the positive energy grew. Nathaly Abreu from New York City reflected on the day: “Today was just amazing, I am feeling reignited, reconnected, rediscovered, period!”

Lunch allowed for even more connections, where folks marked Summer Search's alumni network as a lifeline for career pivots, job searches, hope, and inspiration.  

Partners like Clorox contributed to the vibrant atmosphere as the Summit’s Wellness Zone Sponsor, infusing the event with energy and positivity. They not only shared valuable insights and opportunities but also offered some fun swag. Additionally, the chill space organized by Bay Area alumna and former staff member Anita Li provided a relaxing oasis for all of us to unwind and connect.

Segun Idowu Keynote Speaker

Segun Idowu, Boston's Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, delivering his keynote address.

The closing remarks and keynote speech left us in awe, our hearts and minds expanded by Segun Idowu's words.

Segun, the City of Boston's Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, spoke about investing and uplifting Black and Brown communities, saying, “When we don’t invest in communities of Color, we all fail.” 

It provided those in the audience advocating for equality with a sense of recognition and acknowledgment.

Seth Ellis's toast was a fitting end to an intense day, acknowledging the challenging work and celebrating the connections forged. 

Day Three: Award Ceremony and Looking Forward 

The closing brunch on the third day held a unique energy; win a smaller space, the atmosphere felt intimate and personal.  

As we celebrated the 2023 Alumni Awards, there was an overwhelming sense of unity. The tears and smiles reflected a mix of gratitude and nostalgia.  

Nijah (in the white) accepts her 2023 Alumni Award.

2023 Alumni Awards recipients.

2023 Alumni Awards recipients in attendance. From left to right: Mohamed Abdi, Nijah Morris, George Nunez, Stacey Thompson, Joel Falcon, Christine Capacillo, Joseph Reed, Nathaly Abreu, Ronald Germán, Donaciano Botello Torres.

The ceremony not only celebrated outstanding individuals but also reminded us of the potential within all of us.  The day marked a goodbye, but the energy endures. 

We have more to give, more to share, and more to achieve. 

The Alumni Summit & Leadership Conference was more than an event; it was a manifestation of our shared hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  

It reminded us of our strength as a community and the impact we can have as individuals and as a collective.  

Looking ahead, the announcement of the next Summit in 2025 on the West Coast filled us with anticipation.  

We are part of a movement that bridges gaps, fosters connections, and propels us toward brighter horizons. 

As we move forward, CONNECT, Summer Search's virtual community, will continue to nurture the connections and energy that the summit ignited.  

The three days were a testament to the power of community; I'm grateful to have been a part of it all. 

With a heart full of memories and anticipation for the future, 

Alex Jesus

"Today was exciting, exhilarating, and I am looking forward to the future" ~ Mykala Harris, Summer Search Alumna

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